In last week’s column, “Big Baller banned,” I opined about the infamous interaction between LaVar Ball and Molly Qerim that resulted in Ball getting banned from ESPN. Due to the nature of the topic, I expected that some readers would experience ruffled feathers.
I did not expect to ruffle the feathers of my favorite sports journalist on the planet, Jemele Hill. You know, staff writer at The Atlantic, host of “Jemele Hill is Unbothered” podcast, Ms. SC6 – that Jemele Hill. To borrow a phrase from undisputed women’s middleweight champion Claressa Shields, Hill is the GWOAT of sports journalism.
Hill reached out to let me know that she took issue with my column. In the piece, I used an example of an interaction between Hill and former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski in an attempt to point out hypocrisy by the network.
Though I intended no criticism or shade directed at Hill, she was 100 percent right to be offended. The example I used with Hill and “Gronk” was not relevant to the issue at hand. It was a light-hearted moment that occurred on her personal time. It had nothing to do with work and nothing to do with the story. Had I taken the time to do proper research and examine the context of the interaction, I would’ve, and should’ve, quickly dismissed it.
It was a lazy example brought about by a time-shortened deadline and a rush to get the column done instead of getting it right. While it is fair to debate the nature of the communication between Qerim and Ball (Hill and I respectfully disagree on that interaction), even unintentionally painting Hill as a hypocrite must be considered a failure to readers of The St. Louis American.
She was one of the first to defend Colin Kaepernick. She was unafraid to point out that the POTUS is a white supremacist. She did not hesitate to put her job on the line in the name of truth, social justice and unabashed blacktivism.
Those things don’t make Hill immune to criticism. However, there should be a darn good reason to malign the name of one of the heroes of the culture, especially by a member of the Black Press.
Due to her refusal to stay silent in the face of bigotry, I have no doubt that Hill has become a target of internet trolls and salty MAGA Americans. Unfortunately, my column may have served as fodder for those who desperately seek to discredit Hill.
Therefore, I offer a sincere and heartfelt apology to Hill. Referencing her Instagram post in my column was unnecessary and unwarranted. Though she certainly has the strength to navigate through negativity on her own, I am compelled to set the record straight for the readers of In the Clutch.
Jemele Hill is a national treasure and should be protected at all cost.
KD and Uncle Drew to Brooklyn kicks off frantic free agency
All throughout the 2018-19 NBA season, speculation ran rampant that Kevin Durant would flee Golden State in free agency. Though Durant rarely commented on free agency during the season, it was suspected by many that he would be changing zip codes at season’s end.
The same holds true for Kyrie Irving. With a deep desire to escape the looming shadow of LeBron James and lead his own team, Irving forced a trade to the Boston Celtics in 2017. The following season, a knee injury ended Irving’s season early. The team’s young players stepped up and led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals.
When Irving returned for the 2018-19 season, it quickly became evident that Boston was no longer clearly his team. Jayson Tatum earned a bigger role. Jaylen Brown fought for his seat at the table. Gordon Hayward struggled to find his place after returning from injury. Terry Rozier wanted his chance to shine. The writing for Irving was on the wall.
So when the free agency scramble officially began on Sunday, it was no surprise to find that Durant and Irving decided to don new jerseys. However, it was shocking that the perennial All-Stars decided to pair up to play in Brooklyn.
Even with Durant expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season due to a torn Achilles tendon, the expected signings (players can’t officially sign contracts until July 6), will return the Nets to relevancy.
With D’Angelo Russell leading the way, the Nets team earned its way to the playoffs for the first time since 2015. While Russell gave the Nets hopes of playoff contention, Durant and Irving will give fans legitimate dreams of championship rings.
It is doubtful that Russell will lose any sleep over the deal. The All-Star guard was dealt to the Warriors in a sign-and-trade that will allow him to serve as the No. 2 guy beside Steph Curry as Klay Thompson recovers from a torn ACL.
Meanwhile, the Celtics agreed to terms with Kemba Walker. Walker will allow Boston to keep continue to field All-Star talent at the point guard position. The team will need it since heart and soul Al Horford is expected to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers.
As you can tell, this NBA offseason is shaping up to be a wild ride.
Be sure to check In the Clutch online and also follow Ishmael on Twitter @ishcreates.